CPRE says Norwich’s urban sprawl is greatest threat to Norfolk’s countryside

The urban growth ambitions for Norwich represent the single biggest threat to Norfolk's countryside for generations – according to the planning expert now leading the fight against over-development.

The urban growth ambitions for Norwich represent the single biggest threat to Norfolk's countryside for generations – according to the planning expert now leading the fight against over-development.

The county's branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has created the new role of planning and campaigns manager in recognition of what it sees as an unprecedented array of challenges.

Caroline Davison, a conservationist and historian, who worked in Norfolk County Council's planning department for more than 20 years, has become the first holder of the new post.

She said the greatest threat to Norfolk's landscape today was the joint core strategy (JCS) adopted by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) – a document which allocates land for 37,000 new homes by 2026, mostly around the city's rural hinterland.


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Having worked on the landscape assessments for the policy during her time at County Hall, Ms Davison described herself as a 'poacher-turned-gamekeeper'. She said the house-building targets were too high in a county, which must also cope with the landscape and social demands of drought, population rise and new energy infrastructure.

'The JCS is the biggest threat to the character of Norfolk and the area around Norwich for many years,' she said.

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'One of our core policies is about protecting the tranquillity of the countryside and that could all be threatened by this influx of houses. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.

'We have to look at whether there is another way we can do this, otherwise there will not be any more countryside left.'

GNDP chairman Andrew Proctor said the growth strategy was essential to control the development which the city's population would need in the future, and that green spaces and environmental projects were at the heart of the project.

'Describing the Joint Core Strategy as the 'biggest threat to the countryside' does not make sense,' he said. 'Exactly the opposite is true. Without a JCS in place, the area would be vulnerable to speculative development. What the JCS does is to set out the best way to manage growth and deliver much needed homes, jobs and infrastructure, whilst protecting the countryside from over-development.'

For the full story, see today's EDP (Saturday).

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